5 Childish Tantrums By The World's Worst Dictators
They say that power corrupts, and that absolute power corrupts absolutely. That's definitely the case for dictators, who use their unfathomable power to commit terrible crimes on a national scale. But perhaps the phrase could use a little tweaking. Something like "Absolute power corrupts absolutely ... and also causes you to be a total wang about even the pettiest stuff." Maybe it's not as catchy, but it's the truth. Just look at how ...
Pierre Nkurunziza Arrested Two People For Beating Him At Soccer
Burundi President Pierre Nkurunziza is violent, corrupt, and an utter egomaniac. That's probably why he's currently serving his third presidential term in a two-term country. (He decided that his first term didn't count. You can do that when you're an asshole.) But we're here to talk about his love for soccer.
Nkurunziza is called "East Africa's Footballing President" (probably the only nickname he has without the word "butcher" in it), and he even has his own team, Haleluya FC, with whom he practices three times a week.
It's all fun and games ... unless you're playing against him. Nobody wants to piss off a murderous dictator just to score a few goals, so Burundi's soccer players know to go easy on him.
But in 2018, Haleluya FC finally met their match. They went up against a team comprised of the one kind of player Pierre couldn't beat: people who didn't know who he was. HFC played a team from the town of Kiremba which consisted mostly of Congolese refugees, who didn't know they were squaring off against the guy who decided on their visa status.
Completely oblivious, the Congolese simply did their best, which was a bit too much for President Nkurunziza, who'd gotten used to playing soccer on Very Easy mode. Haleluya FC got bulldozed, and its 54-year-old striker / president for life hit the dirt several times. Of course, only an evil despot would deport a bunch of refugees because they beat him at sports. Nkurunziza must've realized that, so instead he arrested Kiremba administrator Cyriaque Nkezabahizi and his assistant Michel Mutama. He put them up on charges of "conspiracy against the president," figuring that they must've hired outside agents to mildly bruise his shinbones. The two are currently in prison awaiting trial. It's also interesting to note that no news outlet reported what the final score of the Hallelujah FC vs. Kiremba match was. And we fear that any who know will be taking that knowledge to an early grave.
Chechnya's Dictator Attacked A Human Rights Group Because Of An Instagram Ban
Ramzan Kadyrov is the ruthless leader of Chechnya. When not throwing gay people in concentration camps, he's known for other self-aggrandizing stunts, like having his kids beat up other children in public MMA tournaments or hiring legendary Brazilian soccer stars just so he could play against them himself. He's also a huge fan of Instagram, where he amassed three million followers thanks to pictures of himself wrestling crocodiles and shaking hands with tigers. So imagine if Charlie Sheen was accidentally made king of Belgium, and you're basically there.
In December 2017, the U.S. took firm action against Kadyrov by forcing Instagram to close his account -- a devastating weapon previously deployed only against the state of Kardashia. Ramzan, who looks and talks like a man who's been banned from multiple firework wholesalers, did not handle this well. Like a real big boy, he ran crying to Vladimir Putin and had Russia's internet watchdog file a formal complaint against the sanction. He also had the senior official of a prominent human rights group (whom he somehow blamed for the Instagram shutdown) arrested, and then had their offices burned down. That'll show them to complain about human rights violations.
The Instagram thing was only a small part of many sanctions the U.S. imposed on the Chechen government. However, as one official candidly noted: "being placed on the U.S. sanctions list didn't really bother Kadyrov, but the loss of Instagram was very painful for him." Maybe if all the Chechens promise to follow him on Snapchat, he'll stop sending hit squads?
Tajikistan's President Appeared In An Embarrassing Viral Video ... So He Banned YouTube
In 2007, Tajikistan President Emomali Rahmon was attending his son's lavish wedding, and he may have hit the vodka a bit too hard, because he spent the night singing and dancing on stage like everyone's drunken uncle. A video of the boozy spectacle, appropriately named "Drunk Tajik President Sings A Song," found its way onto YouTube six years later, in 2013. Now, even for a dictator running an oppressive regime, that is an impressively long time to keep a video like that off the internet.
The president received some light-to-medium criticism for his antics, especially since Rahmon himself had outlawed big weddings. But to Rahmon, even this gentle ribbing was plain treason, so he did the only sensible thing: He removed the entirety of YouTube from his country. Barely a month after the video became viral, Rahmon had legislation in place banning the entire site from his country's cyberspace to "prevent the misconduct of the people." Clearly a violation of human rights and the freedom of expression, though "misconduct of the people" might be the nicest way anyone has ever described the YouTube comments section.
Grenada's Leader Rigged A Miss World Competition
When Eric Gairy was born, Grenada was still a British colony. For most of his early adult life, he fought for his country's independence, first as a respected trade unionist, then as a radical political leader. Eventually he helped the country gain sovereignty, and became its first ever prime minister. Then, of course, he went completely insane. He started rigging elections, and created a private army called the "Mongoose Gang," who may sound like West Side Story rejects, but were in fact a group of thugs who beat and murdered his political opponents.
But once that unpleasantness was over, Gairy started focusing on what really mattered: aliens and beauty pageants. During his very first term in office, Gairy was accused of rigging the 1970 Miss World competition by offering to let the organizers build a casino in Grenada. The evidence against him was pretty strong. Not only was Gairy one of the judges that year, but Miss Grenada also won, despite not getting the most votes.
Dictators are rarely subtle.
A Thai Man Arrested Was Arrested For Insulting The King...'s Dog
When Thai General Prayut Chan-ocha pulled a coup in 2014, his excuse was that he had been "sensing a threat to the throne" -- quite an ironic thing to say as a would-be military dictator. To keep up his royalist-themed tyranny, the general ordered a crackdown on people insulting the king. Some time later, Thanakorn Siripaiboon, a random internet commenter, made a sarcastic quip about King Bhumibol's deceased dog Thong Daeng (or "Copper") ... and was immediately arrested at his house on sedition and computer crime charges. Here's how the Thai edition of The New York Times reported the issue:
That's right, the government-controlled printers were ordered not to publish any stories about the crackdown on insults of the royal pooches. With the media thus silenced, Siripaiboon plain vanished for a little while. He resurfaced 90 days later, and has since been in prison, awaiting trial before the Bangkok Military Court. If found guilty, he could serve up to 37 years in prison. For dissing a dog.
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That said, why diss a dog? Here's a whole calendar full of good dogs.
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